Jenny Pearson books are properly funny but also manage to tackle some serious issues in a child-friendly and relatable way. Issues like bereavement, depression and Alzheimer’s (amongst others) all crop up and are handled with compassion and just the right balance of good humour. It’s almost like Jenny Pearson is a primary school teacher or something. Her books are a great way to introduce discussions around these serious subjects with children, or you can completely ignore them and just have a good laugh at the brilliant stories.
The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates – Jenny Pearson
This book has more twists and turns than a Super G event. It came highly recommended and it did not disappoint one bit. Jenny Pearson’s writing is very funny, that much is clear, but I also loved the fact that serious issues were covered in a very relatable and empathetic way. Although the main character in the book (Freddie) is dealing with loss and trying to understand it, it’s never dark or particularly sad, it’s more comically poignant.
The story centres around the journey Freddie and his two best friends make at the start of their Summer holiday. It takes them along the south coast of Wales. As they meet an interesting range of diverse Welsh characters, it gives those of use who enjoy ‘doing the voices’ while reading aloud, the perfect opportunity to experiment with a glorious range of hearty Welsh accents.
The Miraculous Journey that the boys go on is absolutely brilliant. It gets better and better with many a jaw-dropping laugh along the way. I can’t recommend this book enough and it will doubtlessly a birthday or Christmas present for years to come.
An added bonus is that the illustrator is, lockdown hero, Rob Biddulph. If you’ve not yet spent time with your children, at home or in school, following a #DrawWithRob video, then you really must.
If you and your children enjoy the books of Jo Simmons, then this one should be next on your list.
Tom, age 7, says: “I really like it because it’s really funny and you can learn facts from it as well. My favourite fact was that pigs can’t look up, so they’ve probably never seen the stars.”
The Incredible Record Smashers – Jenny Pearson
Having enjoyed Jenny Pearson’s first book (Freddie Yates – see below) so much, we’ve had The Incredible Record Smashers on pre-order for months. In both books Pearson manages to take the central character on epic adventures with hilarious consequences while also addressing some very sensitive issues in a child appropriate way. In Record Smashers, the main character (Lucy) has a mother who suffers with depression and the child’s perspective of this is handled brilliantly.
The central premise is that Lucy desperately wants to make her mum happy again and she believes that she can do this by reconnecting her with an old friend. Along the way she attempts a range of world records, with varying degrees of success, gets embroiled with a criminal family, befriends a watermelon and learns an awful lot about herself.
Record Smashers is a heart-warming story of friendship and family and would make an excellent class read across KS2. It’s capable of making you laugh and cry and may even inspire you to break a world record of your own.
Tom, age 8, says: “It was really funny, especially when Lucy made Sandesh wear the gold costume. I really enjoyed the bit where Sandesh played the piano with all of his body parts, it was really fun. My favourite character was Lucy because she kept persevering when she was trying to make her mum happy.”
Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List – Jenny Pearson
Frank Davenport’s son, Frank, finds out that he has a Grandpa (Frank) that he knew nothing about, as well as a sizable inheritance that he is meant to use to look after him. Grandpa Frank isn’t keen on his Grandson’s ideas about looking after him to begin with, but they end up having a wonderful time filled with remarkable experiences.
Frank Junior’s parents aren’t so keen on the adventures, though, and don’t think he should be the one who is entrusted with the money at all. They rather need the money for themselves to help solve their own problems.
The lovely thing about enjoying Jenny Pearson books with my son is that we both chuckle along throughout. There are many laugh out loud moments and some ridiculous situations they find themselves in. Ridiculous, but not beyond the realms of possibility – and it’s this plausibility that helps to keep the story relatable.
As with her other stories, Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List touches upon some serious themes amongst all the hilarity. Pearson sensitively opens the door for conversations with children who maybe experiencing these things in their own lives. Grandpa Frank’s memory is declining and he has a tricky relationship with his son. Children experiencing these things at home will relate to the story but it’s also great for developing empathy in others.
Davenport men might not cry, but I’m not ashamed to admit there was a tear in my eye as we read the last couple of pages. It was poignant and written with real care. I do so love Jenny Pearson books and heartily recommend them to you.
Tom, age 8, says: “It’s really fun to hear about all of the adventures that they go on to spend all of the money. It was really funny when they went swimming with ‘dolphins’. If I had loads of money I’d like to take my Grandad to see Arsenal play because we both love them. My favourite character is Frank (the boy) because he really wants his Grandad to have a good time and he always tries to do the right thing, even when his parents try to stop him.”